Trapped in Tropical Paradise: Part Eight

By Eleanor Motley Richardson | Aug 03, 2020

A hurricane is on the way and I am gathering wisdom from those who summered here in Florida before. Usually, we are in Rockland for hurricane season. We watched Hurricane Irma lay waste to Naples on TV three years ago.

Rule number one is to not believe the track you see on TV, as it can turn on a dime. At present, it's due to miss us by 50 miles, as we are on the West Coast.

Fill the car with gas for a quick getaway, and lay in some cash in case a power outage disables the credit card machines. Freeze a glass of water, then put a quarter on top. If the quarter sinks below half mast when the fridge shuts down, throw out your frozen food. Don't flush during a hurricane! The low pressure will make everything come back on you.

We've laid in supplies and look forward to camping in our third floor condo by candlelight. The government is encouraging us to shelter in place this year, so we don't add contagion to the effects of a storm.

We are in self-imposed quarantine most of the time anyway, as the numbers in Florida are so bad. What to do then to entertain ourselves?

I had an aha! moment a couple of weeks ago when I saw a beginning Spanish class on Roku's "Great Courses" channel. Despite the heroic efforts of Billy Smith at the Penobscot School, I never got off the ground in Spanish, despite being a language major in college. Maybe I was too old.

The aha! moment was that Florida is an excellent place for the study of Spanish. My TV guru, el professor Bill Worden, urges us students to speak Spanish with anyone we can, and I am surrounded by native speakers all doing projects around our building. I think up one new question each day to ask Ricardo, the painter, who is very kind and patiently corrects my errors. Today's was ¿Qué pasa con el Hurricán?

Last Tuesday was my tri-weekly grocery run and I confided to the checkout woman that I was studying Spanish en el televisor. "Say something to her," she said, pointing to her colleague bagging my groceries.

"How is the weather today?" I asked in my best Spanish.

"I've been working here seven years," she replied. Hm. Better go back and study that question again. I sure would like to tell that story to my TV teacher. Now I know how the kids feel during remote learning.

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